St. Joe’s Gets to the Heart of the Issue through Kidney Research

March is National Kidney Month in Canada, and here at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton, we’re an international leader in the treatment for and research of kidney diseases. But we know that sometimes it’s hard to understand what makes a Hospital an international leader, so we’ve put together some reasons.

  • St. Joe’s is one of Canada’s Top 40 Research Hospitals
  • Our Hospital’s Renal (Kidney) Program is one of the largest in Ontario
  • Our Hemodialysis Program is also one of the largest in Canada
  • Locations for Dialysis include Charlton and King Campuses, Brantford and Six Nations
  • Dialysis Clinics in Hamilton, Brantford and at Six Nations to care for needs of our Indigenous communities
  • Our Kidney Transplant Program is the second largest in Ontario

“Being a large program isn’t everything – it’s also the breadth and depth of our kidney program that helps us to care for more than 3,500 patients in the region we serve,” says Rick Badzioch, Vice-President, Clinical Programs at St. Joe’s. “We treat every stage and type of kidney disease: from dysfunctions or diseases of the urinary system right through to the management of chronic kidney disease, surgical and transplantation services, and end stage renal disease care.”

As an academic health sciences centre affiliated with McMaster University, St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton isn’t only interested in caring for those with kidney disease, we’re undertaking research that can help to improve the lives of those with kidney disease, enhance the treatment options available, and explore related issues like why those living with kidney disease are also more susceptible to heart disease. (Did you know? Heart disease is the leading cause of death of those living with kidney disease.)

When the kidneys aren’t functioning well, it means they can’t perform their main function of cleaning the blood as effectively as they normally could. While treatments like dialysis can help with this, eventually, some particles of waste are not filtered out of the blood and can build up in the blood vessels, veins and arteries – which leads to heart disease and cardiac events like a heart attack.

Right now, there’s a lack of treatment options available for vascular calcification (or build up) in patients living with Chronic Kidney Disease, so bio-medical researchers like Dr. Rick Austin, Dr. Joan Krepinsky and others at the Hamilton Centre for Kidney Research, are looking into how certain cellular factors may contribute to calcification. By isolating the contributing factors, our scientists are identifying a pathway for how new medicines may be able to slow the progression of heart disease in these patients.

This is just one example of the type of research that happens at St. Joe’s—we’re also leaders in clinical and translational research which means we’re not just doing research for the sake of science – it’s research with the power to improve the lives of the patients we care for – to help them live longer, with fewer complications.

But research isn’t something that’s accounted for in the funding Hospitals receive from the government. That’s why we’re so grateful to the donors who choose to support research, including AMGEN Canada. Over the past 18 years, AMGEN has been a generous donor to St. Joe’s and our research enterprise. This year, during Kidney Month, their continued support of kidney research is helping to ensure our scientists and clinicians have the funding they need to get to the heart of the issue that links kidney and cardiac disease.